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State report cards a mixed bag for Portland schools

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State report cards a mixed bag for Portland schools

PORTLAND — The annual state report cards for Portland Public Schools are in and the results are mixed.

Two elementary schools received failing grades: East End Community School (which also received an F last year) and Howard C. Reiche Community School. Only one school, Longfellow Elementary School, received an A, which was the same result as 2013.

On average, Portland's 15 schools received a C from the Department of Education, which is the same as last year. Among the individual schools, four dropped in standing, four improved by a letter and seven schools remained unchanged.

Two elementary schools and two high schools gained a grade. Fred P. Hall School shed its F grade from last year, moving up to a D. Presumpscot Elementary school climbed from a C to a B. Deering High School and Portland High School both improved from D to C in state standings.

Two elementary schools dropped a grade: Reiche fell from D to F; Ocean Avenue Elementary School lost a letter from C to D, and Peaks Island Elementary school experienced the most precipitous drop from A to C.

Casco Bay High School fell from B to C.

The remainder stayed flat, including all three of Portland's middle schools, which scored C grades.  

The state's letter-grade system was introduced in May 2013 and met with statewide criticism from school administrators and parents. For the second year in a row, the system was also criticized by city Superintendent of Schools Emmanuel Caulk.

"These grades use a simplistic and inadequate system for gauging school performance that relies primarily on a single, standardized test," Caulk said in a written statement.

He added that the grades "underscore the impact of poverty on student achievement," noting the majority of schools with the lowest grades "exceed the average poverty rate."

Caulk called for the state Legislature to fully fund the Title I program.

"Currently, Maine deducts Title I funds from the amount that districts receive through the state funding formula. That, in essence, negates the purpose of Title I," he said. "Maine is the only state in the country that has adopted such a funding formula."

The district provides its own grading system (available on its website). Caulk said the disctrict's score card provides greater context on the data and "meaningful information." 

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or bmccanna@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.